How to play

How the overtone flute works?

It is recommended to start learning the overtone flute by finding the tones from your overtone flute. The scale may sound strange and unfamiliar in the beginning. The flute creates different tones depending on how hard you blow. You can try to cover the end hole with you finger slowly so you also hear the tones of partly closed end hole. Overtone scale can be played from low to high by covering the end hole during every other tone. The lowest tones demand very weak air stream, stable and with lots of concentration. The strength of the air stream is something like if you were warming your hands with breath in a freezing cold winter day. Higher tones demand harder, well aimed breath. The same power of the air stream provides two different tones: the tones with open and closed flute end. Between these tones you can use tongue or throat to make the tone’s attack more clear or to tie them together (legato). Varying between legato and staccato in a melody phrase is a way of giving life to played tunes.

At first it can be useful to just listen the overtone scale to adapt your ears and brains to its’ distinctive intonation and tuning. Playing touch with different tones will improve in time. The playing touch is also affected by the instrument itself. Some flute can be better for some purpose than the other for example playing high or low tones. Some flutes are more sensitive and result higher tones easier without demanding great changes in the air pressure. Some are good for low tones. With overtone flute it is impossible to play acoustically low tones with a great loudness or highest notes very quiet. So you need a flute which is good for your purposes. The ideal flute could be something between sensitive and insensitive. Because the dynamic tools as forte and piano can’t be used for the overtone flute musicians have to use other means available, such as ornaments, tremolo, attack variations, rhythmic patterns, dynamics brought by the scale, etc etc.

© Janne Ojajärvi